“Despite the fact that the public does not want a host of artificial ingredients in their organic food, some national advisers and decision-makers in the National Organic Program have overtly expressed a desire to grow the exemption list in order to grow the organic market. We believe this violates the public’s trust of what organic means,” says Dr. Urvashi Rangan, executive director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.
Other highlights from the Consumer Reports National Research Center’s national representative survey include:
- Organic Produce. The majority of consumers think organic produce should not have pesticides (91% of consumers) or antibiotics (86%). The NOSB will vote on ending the exemption for streptomycin on apples and pears, which has been re-listed many times.
- Organic Fish. Nearly all consumers (92%) want at least one federal standard for organic fish. The vast majority of consumers think federal standards should require that: (1) 100% organic feed is used, (2) no antibiotics or other drugs are used, and (3) no colors are added. The NOSB is considering aquaculture materials -- despite the absence of standards -- at this meeting
- Sunset Process. An overwhelming percentage of consumers (84%) think the use of artificial ingredients in organic products should be discontinued, if not reviewed, after five years; few consumers (15%) endorse continued use of the artificial ingredient without review.
In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program changed the review process. Under the new policy, an exempt material could be permitted indefinitely unless a two-thirds majority of the NOSB votes to remove an exempted (synthetic) substance from the list. The new policy allows USDA to relist exemptions for synthetic materials without the recommendation of the independent board and outside of public view, which used to be required.
The original authors of the organic law, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter DeFazio, have urged the USDA to reverse this policy change, saying that it “turns the sunset policy of the Organic Foods Production Act on its head” and is “in conflict with both the letter and the intent of the statute.”
The issue of sunset will be raised as part of the public comment portion of the NOSB meeting.